I’ve been having some interesting discussions recently on the concept that making oneself vulnerable is (equal to?) making oneself authentic.
While I believe that there is more to authenticity than being vulnerable, I do tend to agree that by shedding the walls and the masks that we put on to fit other peoples’ (as well as our own!) expectations, we come closer to being authentically US. Beyond this, I believe that a large part of our personal expression is shaped by the norms and customs of the society in which we are socialized (i.e. the culture we grew up in and the one we are exposed to on a daily basis).
That being said, menstruation is a topic seen as taboo in many cultural traditions. The physiology and physicality of bleeding is considered “unfit” to talk about, much less reveal, publicly. The slowly growing artistic movement of menstrual empowerment have shown this in an impressive way. In March of 2015, for example, Rupi Kaur’s photo depicting a woman* on her period was deleted twice from Instagram, claiming its content was inappropriate. Perhaps most famously, artist Casey Jenkins’ 28 day long performance piece “Casting Off My Womb“, in which she knitted from a cast of wool placed in her vaginal tunnel for a full menstrual period, was met with outrage and disgust by millions of viewers around the globe.
While I do believe that there is such a thing as oversharing, when it comes to menstruation, I think that bringing the daily trivialities people with periods into the light is a necessity for as long as cycle positivity has not reached the status “normal”.
It is for this reason that I have decided to step out of anonymity and add personal details to these pages. This does make me vulnerable. Yes. But it also is authentically me. And as far as I am concerned, the old feminist principle is just as valid today as it was the day it was coined:
The personal is political!
[Carol Hanisch, member of New York Radical Women and a prominent figure in the Women’s Liberation Movement]